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‘Star Wars’ Actor John Boyega Signs Deal to Bring More African Originals to Netflix

Stephanie Sengwe

British-Nigerian and “Star Wars” actor John Boyega just signed a deal with Netflix through his company, UpperRoom Productions, to “develop non-English language films centered on West and East Africa,” Variety reports.

The partnership is the latest move in Netflix’s bid to increase its stake in original content coming from Africa. In February, chief content officer Ted Sarandos and other high-level executives visited Lagos and revealed details of their first Nigerian series from renowned writer/director Akin Omotoso, before traveling to Johannesburg to launch the streamer’s first African original “Queen Sono,” a six-part drama helmed by Pearl Thusi, that premiered on the service on Feb. 28.

Two other African originals, the South African teen drama “Blood & Water” and the animated Zambian series “Mama K’s Team 4,” are slated to premiere later this year.

“Africa has a rich history in storytelling, and for Netflix, this partnership with John and UpperRoom presents an opportunity to further our investment in the continent while bringing unique African stories to our members both in Africa and around the world,” said David Kosse, VP of international film at Netflix.

Last year, Kelly Luegenbiehl, Netflix’s vice president of international originals, revealed that the company saw a booming market for non-English speaking dramas. At an industry summit in London, she noted: “Hollywood is not the be-all and end-all of storytelling.”

In fact, the streamer reported 50 percent of subscribers watched a foreign-language show — up from 30 percent a couple of years ago, proving fertile ground for expansion.

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